The first major speech given by the UK’s new Energy Secretary has not garnered much in the way of support from the country’s renewable energy industry.
Following the recent re-election of the UK’s Conservative Party, MP Amber Rudd was appointed to the position of Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Speaking last Friday to the Aviva climate change conference, Ms. Rudd gave her first major speech in her new position, and the response has not been overly appreciative.
Responding on its website, RenewableUK — the country’s leading renewable energy trade association, specialising in wind, wave, and tidal energy — described Ms Rudd’s speech “like saying you want to win the Tour de France on a bike without wheels.”
“Despite the laudable ambitions expressed by the Energy Secretary in her speech today, the current trajectory of current Government policy on renewables is not an encouraging one, following their announcements on ending support for onshore wind and solar, as well as scrapping the Green Deal and the Zero Carbon Homes objective, and making punitive changes to the Climate Change Levy,” said RenewableUK’s Director of Policy Dr Gordon Edge.
“It’s like saying you want to win the Tour de France on a bike without wheels. That basic mismatch between rhetoric and action will make investors very nervous. Until this is sorted out, the essential ramp-up of investment in the low carbon economy will flat-line.”
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) also responded to Ms. Rudd’s speech.
“The most critical challenge governments around the world face is getting a strong climate deal in Paris at the end of the year. Momentum for an ambitious deal is there, but we’ve got to keep up the pace,” said Rhian Kelly, CBI Business Environment Director. “Business has a role to play in finding solutions to cutting emissions and boosting energy efficiency, which will also create jobs and drive growth in all parts of the country.
“Firms operating in the sector have seen a number of piecemeal changes on onshore wind subsidies and the Green Deal, but for businesses to deliver effectively, they need a sure and stable policy environment in which to invest and innovate — that means certainty, not chop and change,” Kelly continued. “It’s right that the Government ensures consumers’ bills remain affordable, but it needs to work closely with industry in order to provide long-term value for consumers.”
Ms. Rudd’s speech comes after a long week of criticism concerning her department’s decisions to begin further reviewing financial governmental aid provided to the renewable energy industry. The Department of Energy and Climate Change announced last week that it intended to launch consultations on solar PV (below 5 MW) subsidies, as well as the country’s renewable feed-in tariff scheme.
In announcing the measures, Ms. Rudd, said, “My priorities are clear. We need to keep bills as low as possible for hardworking families and businesses while reducing our emissions in the most cost-effective way.”
In response, renewable industry members were unyielding in their criticism of further cuts to the UK’s renewable energy industry, reprimanding the government for creating an uncertain environment for investors and for avoiding conversation with the industry to discuss ways in which subsidies and other financial aid can be phased out, rather than simply dismembered.